Tag Archives: Spain

Call for Australia and New Zealand biomedical sector to follow Europe and be more open about animal research

‘We are lagging behind on openness about animal research’ say vets and lab technicians.

A survey of Australian and New Zealand vets and technicians who care for animals, used in medical and veterinary research, has shown that most believe scientific institutions should be more open about animal use.

They are also supportive of a public pledge, similar to those found in European countries, to commit Australian and New Zealand institutions to greater openness.

The survey by the Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association (ANZLAA) of more than 150 people working in animal care has found that 87% believe research institutions in Australia and New Zealand should be more open about their research involving animals.

Speaking at this week’s ANZLAA conference in Perth, Australia, veterinarians Dr Malcolm France and Dr Jodi Salinsky said that 87 per cent of survey respondents wanted research organisations to be more open and would support the development of an ‘openness agreement’ similar to the UK’s successful Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.

The Concordat has seen over 120 of the UK’s top scientific bodies implement initiatives to give the public a better idea of what actually happens in an animal research setting.

Similar agreements are now in place in Spain and Portugal, with Belgium and Switzerland likely to have agreements in place by the end of 2019.

“Although several other countries have their own version based on the UK model or are actively working on it, we are lagging well behind in Australia and New Zealand,” said Dr France. “There are definitely some organisations that have been commendably proactive about openness in this part of the world, but most are still hesitant and there is nothing in place at a national level to encourage greater openness.”

Speaking in response, Kirk Leech, Executive Director of the European Animal Research Association (EARA), said: “This is a welcome initiative by ANZLAA.”

“Transparency agreements in Europe have provided far greater awareness of the importance of explaining more clearly to the general public why animal research is the only option for testing new drugs and how it has played a part in all the major treatments for diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”

EARA, the communications and advocacy organisation for scientific research using animals in Europe, is working with biomedical associations in several European countries. It was instrumental in helping to set up the Spanish Transparency Agreement which now has 140 members, from both public and private research.

Drs France and Salinsky agreed that while animal research may be ethically contentious, the UK Concordat has seen some impressive efforts to present the public with better information to draw their own conclusions. Institutions signing up to the Concordat typically have a website giving details of the number and species of animals they use and then provide crucial context by explaining the goals of the research and how animals are cared for. Some have gone much further with initiatives like virtual tours of animal facilities or public open days.

The survey also found the respondents believed that the public don’t realise how much is done to support the welfare of animals and that there is much false information that needs correcting.

Dr France said “a sad consequence of the lack of openness is the negative impact it has on those who provide day-to-day care for the animals. Most animal technicians choose their vocation because they love animals. Even if they have mixed feelings about animal research, they are determined to see the animals receive the best possible care. Unfortunately, they are often reluctant to talk about their work because they fear a negative reaction based on public misunderstanding and outdated images in anti-vivisection campaign material.”

Dr Salinsky agreed adding that “Greater openness would help give well-earned recognition to these dedicated individuals, increase public understanding of animal research and highlight the effort made to ensure the welfare of the animals.”

Most animal technicians are drawn to their vocation by a love of animals and a desire to ensure the best possible welfare for animals used in research.

Available for interview:

Malcolm France [Tel 0401 719 456; email malcolm.p.france@gmail.com
Jodi Salinsky [Tel +64 211 431 996; email j.salinsky@auckland.ac.nz]

Notes to editors:

Research on animals is highly regulated around the world. In Australia, research that involves the use of animals must be conducted according to the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes which is enforced by State and Territory legislation. In New Zealand, animal research is regulated under the Animal Welfare Act and must be conducted according to an approved Code of Ethical Conduct. In both countries, any research project that will involve animals must first be approved and is then subject to ongoing monitoring by an Animal Ethics Committee, the membership of which must include veterinarians, laypersons and animal welfare advocates external to the institution.

The principle of ‘The 3Rs’ (Reduction, Replacement and Refinement of animals used in research) are emphasised in the regulatory framework governing animal research in Australia and New Zealand. Although there are some alternatives to using animals, they are not yet sophisticated enough to replace animals in many scientific studies.

About EARA
The European Animal Research Association (EARA) is an organisation that communicates and advocates on biomedical research using animals and provides accurate, evidence-based information.  It also takes responsibility for the choice and sustainability in the global transport of animals for medical research. It has more than 60 partner organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, across 14 European countries.

EARA’s vision is to enhance the understanding and recognition of research involving animals across Europe, allowing for a more constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and a more efficient climate for research in Europe www.eara.eu

The benefits of animal research
Most of the medicines we have come from animal research. Often science doesn’t need to use animals, but for many key questions they are crucial. They will help millions with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord damage and parasitic infections like malaria. There are three main reasons why animals are used in research:

  • To advance scientific understanding,
  • To develop solutions to medical problems,
  • To test medicines and vaccines in order to protect the safety of people, animals and the environment.

Animals are used when there is a need to find out what happens in the whole living body, which is far more complex than the sum of its parts. It is very difficult, and in most cases simply not yet possible, to develop non-animal methods to replace the use of living animals.

Free EARA event on openness in animal research in Spain, this October

The latest in the series of EARA science communications events, supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), will take place in Alicante, Spain, on 1 October.

Institute of Neurosciences, Alicante, Spain

Improving Openness in Animal Research in Spain is a free event (register here) and will focus on why scientists, researchers, press officers and other stakeholders should talk openly about animal research, but will not be a debate about the ethics of animal experimentation.

It will take place on the Monday, 1 October, (14:30 – 18:00 CEST) at the Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante (CSIC-UMH), and is a public event, although it will be of particular interest to those working in the life sciences sector.

Following the presentations, moderated by Cristina Márquez, Neuroscientist, of CSIC-UMH, there will be a panel discussion followed by a drinks reception.

Kirk Leech, Executive Director, European Animal Research Association

Kirk is Executive Director of EARA, a communications and advocacy organisation whose mission is to uphold the interests of biomedical, and other life sciences, research and healthcare development across Europe. Previously Kirk worked for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and Understanding Animal Research, the UK’s leading advocacy group on the use of animals in medical research.

Dr. Carmen Agustín, Neuroscientist, University of Valencia

BSc in Biology and PhD in Neuroscience. Lecturer at Dept Cell and Functional Biology & Physical Antropology (Universitat de València). Researcher at Functional Neuroanatomy Lab (Universitat Jaume I de Castelló & Universitat de València). Her research is focused in neurobiology of socio-sexual and parental behaviour, olfactory system, and murine models of neurological disease. Since 2012 she has been actively engaged in science communication, as a blogger, speaker and in different media such as TV, radio and Twitter. She will speak about her experience in communicating animal research to the public.

Daniel Mediavilla, Journalist, El País

Daniel Mediavilla holds a degree in Audiovisual Communication from the University of Navarra and is one of the founders of Materia, the science and technology news website. For five years he has been a science journalist for El País . Previously, Daniel worked as advisor to the Secretary of State for Research, Felipe Pétriz, in the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and as a journalist for the science section of ABC and Público.

Professor Juan Lerma, Neuroscientist and editor-in-chief of Neuroscience, and CSIC-UMH

Juan Lerma is Professor at the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) and the Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience. He chaired the Animal Research Committee of COSCE that established the Transparency Agreement on the Use of Animals in Research. Previously, he has been Director of the Instituto de Neurociencias (CSIC-UMH) (2007-2016), Chair of the PanEuropean Regional Committee of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO), and Secretary General of FENS.

EARA website study shows the Spanish biomedical sector must continue to improve openness on animal research

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of websites of biomedical research bodies in Spain, assessing how they discuss research using animals, has found that the sector needs to continue to make progress towards an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research.

EARA assessed a total of 189 institutional websites in Spain, during 2018, both public and private bodies, such as universities and pharmaceutical companies, and a rating system was developed to analyse the data. The main findings were that:

  • A large majority of institutions (84%) conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.
  • However, just under two in five of the websites assessed (38%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.
  • Fewer than one in five (18%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

Currently, efforts to improve openness in Spain are co-ordinated through the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain (‘Acuerdo de transparencia sobre el uso de animales en experimentación científica en España’) which was launched by the Spanish Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE), with the collaboration of EARA, and has been adhered to by more than 130 institutions.

A total of 1,219 institutional websites within the EU[1] were assessed and the findings from the EARA Study of EU-based websites 2018 have now been presented to the EU Commission, which is currently examining the findings.

In comparison to Spain, the percentage of institutions that displayed a statement on the use of animals in research in other countries was – France 32%, Germany 34%, Italy 39% and UK 95%.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “The biomedical sector in Spain has made good progress through the transparency agreement, but much more can be done. Institutions should make greater use of all the opportunities to be more accessible and to be more transparent with the public.

“Our view is that the websites of the institutions that we assessed will play an increasingly important role in informing members of the public, media, decision-makers and regulators about the use of animals in research, their welfare and the benefits of biomedical science for humans and animals”

The website study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.

The study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

Using the documentation and techniques developed in the course of this study, EARA intends in future years to revisit the websites involved and chart the improvement (or otherwise) of the institutional openness of the sector as a whole.

[1] A further 100 websites from non-EU countries were assessed.

Spanish initiative says ‘Animal Research Gives Life’

The Spanish Society for Laboratory Animal Sciences (SECAL) used World Day for Laboratory Animals (24 April), as an opportunity to communicate on animal research.

EARA Member SECAL, created a video (in Spanish) with examples on the benefits of the biomedical animal research.

The message in the video “La experimentación animal da vida” (Animal research gives life) was repeated by board members of SECAL.

Research institutions from Spain and Latin America (including EARA Spanish Twitter) shared the video on social media with the hashtag #LaExperimentaciónAnimaldaVida.

Sergi Vila of SECAL, said the video as “a very positive initiative”, especially on the eve of the general election in Spain, where the Animalist Party (PACMA) has called for the ending of animal research.

A look back at recent biomedical breakthroughs thanks to animal research

On the eve of Biomedical Research Awaerness Day (BRAD 18 April), EARA looks back at some of the important medical advances over the last year that have involved research using animals.

Among the breakthroughs reported, that benefit both humans and animals, are:

  • Research using mice led to many new breakthroughs, such as multiple sclerosis research, at the University of Cambridge and to fight chronic pain using synthetic Botox at University College London, UK.
  • In surgical research on sheep at Lund University, Sweden, freeze-dried valves – later rehydrated for transplantation – were used in animal heart surgery for first time.
  • A team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Madrid, Spain, succeeded in curing pulmonary fibrosis disease in mice using a gene therapy.
  • In Belgium, researchers at EARA members VIB, KU Leuven and UZ Leuven used mice to develop new antibacterial drugs.
  • Building on a technique developed in rats, Swiss researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, have announced that stimulating a person’s spinal cord can restore voluntary movement in some paralysed patients (see picture).

Scientists are also developing new biomedical treatments and techniques that replace, refine or reduce (3Rs) the use of animals in research.

  • A team from the University of Oxford, UK, and EARA member Janssen Pharmaceutica, Belgiumwon the International 3Rs Prize using a computer model that predicts accurately the risk of drug-induced heart arrhythmias in humans.

Animal research is integral to ongoing research in areas such as spinal cord repair, stem cell treatments (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), gene therapy (muscular dystrophy, diabetes) and molecularly targeted cancer medicines.
Historically, animal research has also led to new diagnostic tests for early treatment (cancer, heart disease); and effective treatments for serious illnesses (diabetes, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease).

The same research often helps humans and animals (treatments for arthritis, neurological disorders, organ transplants, cancer therapies) and contributes to farm animal welfare and techniques to save endangered species.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “Without the use of animals the pace of advances in biomedical research would be dramatically slower.

“Finding alternative methods to animal research, such as computer models and cell cultures are extremely important, but animal testing remains the safest and most effective way to produce drugs and treatments for us all.”

Spanish animal 2017 statistics shows drop in procedures

New figures released by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, show an overall decrease in the use of animals in biomedical research last year.

According to the official government website (in Spanish), in 2017 there were a total of 802,976 procedures involving animals, which compares to 917,986 in 2016, .

Overall this reflects a significant drop, equivalent to one-eighth of the 2016 total number, including almost halving of the number of times fish were used (from 168,746 to 85,687).

The statistics, made available annually in compliance with European law, demonstrate the continuing commitment of the Spanish biomedical sector to working responsibly with animals used for research.

Particular trends show a reduction in the number of procedures on mice, rats, pigs and, especially cephalopods⸺down from 8444 to 20. More procedures on cats (531) and dogs (1476) occurred in 2017 than in the previous year. This overall downward trend countered the way the number of procedures in Spain had previously been increasing since 2014.

Commenting on the figures, Lluis Montoliu of the National Centre for Biotechnology, Spaintweeted: ‘It must be remembered … that the use of dogs is still indispensable in the preclinical validation of innovative gene therapy treatments for diseases and that the use of non-human primates is equally essential in certain pathologies that affect us.’


Survey reveals great progress made by biomedical research sector in Spain to be more open about animal research

The first report on the Spanish biomedical sector’s commitment to be more transparent about its research using animals, published today, has highlighted the great progress being made to improve openness.

Launched in 2016, the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, (‘Acuerdo de transparencia sobre el uso de animales en experimentación científica en España’) now has more than 120 public and private research centres, universities and scientific societies as signatories. It contains four commitments for research centres in Spain to provide more information about animal research at their institutions.

1/ Speak with clarity about when, how and why animals are used in investigation.
2/Provide adequate information to the media and the general public about the conditions under which research using animals is carried out and the results obtained from them.
3/ Develop initiatives that improve knowledge and understanding by society about the use of animals in scientific research.
4/Report annually on progress and share experiences.

The report, (in Spanish) launched today at the Student Residence of the CSIC, in Madrid, assessing the development of the fourth commitment has been carried out by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), in partnership with the Spanish Society for Laboratory Animal Sciences (SECAL), a member of both the Spanish Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE) and EARA. Continue reading

Transparency Agreement on animal research in Portugal

The Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal (‘Acordo de Transparência sobre Investigação Animal em Portugal) is a collaborative project by EARA and the Portuguese Society of Sciences in Laboratory Animals (SPCAL).

This is an initiative inspired by the Transparency Agreement in Spain, launched at 2016 where EARA co-operated with the Federation of Spanish Scientific Societies (COSCE) and by the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. At the launch on June 21, 2018, the Transparency Agreement was signed by 16 institutions including Research Centres and Universities from across Portugal. 

By signing up to the Portuguese Transparency Agreement, the signatories agree to the following obligations:
– Make a declaration concerning animal welfare on the Institution’s website.
– Link to the Transparency Agreement.
– provide adequate information to the media and the general public on the conditions under which animal research is carried out and the results obtained.
– Develop initiatives that promote greater knowledge and understanding of society on the use of animals in scientific research.
– Report on progress achieved on an annual basis and share experiences.

View here all the organisations that have signed the agreement to date.


With the Transparency Agreement, EARA and SPCAL aim to work together to foster a climate of openness around animal research in Portugal. The four commitments ensure that the Transparency Agreement is an actionable document, which signatories can use to guide their progress toward openness on animal research.

This agreement builds on work in Portugal that began in 2017. A number of Portuguese research institutes met to discuss how to improve the Portuguese public’s understanding and acceptance of animal research. At this meeting were representatives from the Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon, Nova Medical School Lisbon, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, the Instituto de Medicina Molecular and the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. At the meeting EARA proposed to explore the possibility of developing a Transparency Agreement to guide efforts on openness on animal research in Portugal.

If your institution wishes to support this initiative and sign the Transparency Agreement, or if you have any questions, please contact:
– Ana Barros, EARA co-ordinator, abarros@eara.eu
– Bob Tolliday, EARA Communications Coordinator, btolliday@eara.eu 00 44 (0) 7715525535
– Ricardo Afonso, President of the Portuguese Society of Sciences in Laboratory Animals (SPCAL), acordotransparencia@spcal.pt

FENS Forum to discuss openness and communications on animal research

Details have been released on the session on animal research communications that will take place at this year’s FENS Forum of Neuroscience, in Berlin, 7-11 July.

Featuring EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, the special interest event entitled Communicating Animal Research: Challenges and Opportunities, looks at how neuroscientists can counter opposition to their research work using animals from activist groups.

The biomedical research sector has often been hesitant and defensive in its response and the event will explain how proactive communications, and openness on animal research can encourage public trust. Continue reading

Transparency Agreement on Animal Research launched in Spain

A Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain was launched yesterday in Madrid. The Acuerdo de transparencia sobre el uso de animales en experimentación científica en España (lit. ‘Transparency agreement on the use of animals in scientific experimentation in Spain’), has been developed by Spain’s Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE) in collaboration with EARA. 

The Spanish document has been developed based on the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. Similar to the UK Concordat, the Agreement outlines four commitments for research centres in Spain to provide more information about animal research at their institutions.

Continue reading